Goal setting for Start-Up Businesses – tips and things to consider

Tips for start-ups GHSDepending on the type of business you set-up, you could experience a number of challenges along the way and not just in customer late payments. How you handle those problems may show how you will manage issues that come up when the business is up and running. If you to do proper research, strategy and planning when setting up your business, you will likely avoid some common pitfalls.

Delays

When setting up your business, you may come across people or organisations that delay your progress. Some delays are manageable while others are completely out of your control. For instance if you learn that you need a special permit to run the business late in the planning process, you may have to push back your plans until the government agency reviews and approves your application. Always have a backup plan ready in case of these issues, such as a later date to open the doors of your business.

Financial Challenges

Lack of proper funding is a common reason businesses fail. A snag in the process of securing financing for your new company could halt your plans altogether. For this reason it is wise to take steps to seek and apply for financing early in the start-up process. Cash reserves to run your business and fund the first year of operations of your business may not let you to sustain day to day cash flow until the business can generate any real revenue. So make sure you get your personal financial matters in order and start saving well in advance of attempting to start your own business. Lenders and investors commonly look at the financial status and character of the business owner when evaluating the company for financing.

Poor Organization

Issues regarding your organisation may also plague a prospective business owner. This issue is far-reaching because lack of organisational skills can negatively affect every step of the business setup process. Poor organisation may also affect the way other parties perceive your business concept in general. You can avoid problems related to lack of organization by consulting a business mentor, buying programs to help you organize and hiring help to help you with the process.

Some risks to consider when setting up a business:

1. Select a business structure that limits personal liability. Change your business structure from a sole proprietorship where you are personally liable for business operations to a corporation or limited liability company where you have limited liability.

2. Transfer risk to insurance companies by insuring against major risks such as damage to your facilities, product liability, injuries to customers or suppliers and death or incapacity of company principals.

3. Perform a risk analysis by evaluating the consequences of risky activities, the likelihood of the consequences occurring and the benefits of the risky activities. Avoid risk by not carrying out activities that have severe and likely consequences and low benefits.

4. Transfer the risk of activities with severe and likely consequences but high benefits to other parties. Create a new, independent company to carry out these activities or assign them to suppliers or partners.

5. Reduce risk from product failure and warranty claims by implementing a quality assurance program. Develop a system of reporting from customer service to identify problems. Structure the quality assurance program to document production tasks and product testing. Link the problems reported by customer service to specific failures in production or testing procedures and start corrective action.

6. Reduce risk of surprises in operating results by keeping accurate records and instituting effective controls. Put in place a system that limits who can authorize specific actions and how much they can spend. Implement a reporting system that gives you key information about company performance. Evaluate the controls and reporting system by comparing actual practice and performance to the control procedures and the reported information.

7. Reduce financial risk by managing your accounts receivable to minimize outstanding balances and identify poor credit risks. Implement credit and payment standards, specifying which credit scores and payment records are acceptable. Evaluate customer payments and ask for advance payment from customers who don’t meet the standards.

8. Reduce financial risk by keeping outstanding loans and financing needs to a minimum. Control growth at a rate that the company can finance internally. If the company can’t pay off some loans, replace short-term credit with long-term, fixed-rate loans.

If you have any questions, please do ask. Here to help you succeed!

Love is … simple!

book cover Jo March "Love is simple!"
book cover Jo March “Love is simple!”

A large amount of discussion in entrepreneur and business groups has been around the subject of love and passion in the workplace for what we do. Whilst I understand this is a very subjective matter, exactly what is love and how do we apply passion to our thinking and execute this in our daily work and everyday lives?

There simply is not a one-size-fits-all formula for discovering what you’re passionate about and then transitioning to a new or existing career. That being said, I have learned a few things about doing what you love for work—and this was the précis for my book Freedom After The Sharks.

I decided to interview a love expert and special friend in the subject matter, Jo March, and author of Love is Simple. After several cups of tea at the Terrace Room at The Meridian Hotel in Piccadilly – London, and much discussion sharing past and present experiences, Jo explained:

Why people should live in love and why we are not communicating and forging meaningful and unconditional relationships, love is simple right…?

Love is simple when we understand the true meaning of unconditional love. The kind of love that transforms and transcends us as human beings to a higher level of consciousness, in those moments when we truly love, we become alive, we feel passion, we feel life in every breath. Love is life, at the core of everything we do on this life path it is love that is the driving force.

I believe we are not forming unconditional relationships because of the environment we live in, the world of technology, the fast paced, instant access, immediate response world, we receive things immediately, therefore we expect everything instantly, we are conditioned to having it all “now”.

As with the greatest things in life, the magic only happens when things are given time to breathe, when thoughts are clear, when the mind is at peace. It is only in this environment that unconditional love can flourish. The magic ingredient to unconditional love is finding peace within your own mind; for when your mind is at peace others will be at peace. It is with this level of peace that bliss exists.

Listen to what your relationships are telling you: love and listening go hand in hand. To love unconditionally you must have the ability to listen to what another person is asking of you; not listening to what your emotions and desires are telling you, but really listening to what that person is asking of you. When we listen to what another requires above our own needs then we create trust, and we create understanding; when we understand things, the fear goes away. It is only then can we become selfless, allowing the time for love to flourish unconditionally.

For love is simple… if you just listen…

Jo’s interview was invaluable and if made me think of 3 very valuable points around love in the workplace and in key relationships:

1: Do what you love and the money will follow.

If there’s one thing that holds us back from pursuing our passions, it’s the fear of not being able to take care of ourselves. It’s what keeps us in unfulfilling jobs: the guaranteed salary that’s enough.

But this ignores the fact that succeeding in anything requires a great deal of work and uncertainty. Risk is always part of the equation. For everyone who has made a good living doing something they enjoy, there are countless other equally talented people who were not able to do it.

This does not mean we should not pursue our passions; it just means we’re more apt to feel satisfied doing it if we define success in terms beyond financial gain. That might mean we need to live on less. It might mean we need to balance our passion with other work.

Do what you love and enjoyment will follow. Do what you love and you will feel more fulfilled. Do what you love and the money will seem less relevant. These things I have found are true.

2: Leap and the net will appear.

Fear can be too much to  make a leap, especially when you have no idea where you’ll land or how. A lot of us get caught in the planning stage because we want to know with absolute certainty we won’t make a mistake we’ll one day regret.

So we wait, we gather information, we imagine all possible outcomes and plan to avoid negative ones, and generally anchor ourselves with good intentions that, sometimes, never lead to action.

Confidence is that we need to have faith that we won’t fall flat on our faces. But the reality is that we sometimes we will.

What’s important to realise is that we are strong enough to get back up if this happens, and we can do it knowing that every fall is valuable. Every time a net does not appear, we learn a little more about how to weave one for ourselves. We also learn to be comfortable in the drop, which, if we’re honest, is where we always live. Life is uncertain, whether we take large risks or not.

It’s not just the leaps that dictate our success; it’s our capacity for soaring through the unknown, and our willingness to learn from the landing.

3: Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.

With any job or business, you often need to do things you would not choose to do.

But that’s not the only reason doing what you love can feel like work. There’s also the inevitability that most tasks feel different when they become things we need to do to earn. When the monetary compensation increases, suddenly the money becomes the motivation, and as a result, it feels less enjoyable.

I suspect this comes down to freedom: we tend to best enjoy the things we feel we’re doing entirely by choice. Since work, in any form, requires commitment that supersedes our moment-to-moment whims, we need to know going in that even the most enjoyable paths will have their ups and downs.

History has proven this is not universally true. Some of the most passionate, successful people are those who have sacrificed many of their needs to push toward one all-encompassing goal.

We all have different advantages, some based on good fortune and some based on choices we have previously made. We can only ever start from where we are. If we have the strength to play our hands, instead of questioning why we don’t hold different cards, then we can decide at any time to work toward doing what we love.

The important thing is to remember that so much is still possible. We all deserve to enjoy the way we spend our days. If we’re willing to dream, work hard, learn, and navigate uncertainty, we all have the potential to do it.

Jo’s book Love is Simple is available on Amazon.

Micro Management – looking at the bigger picture

Geoff SearleI had a very interesting discussion recently with one of my associates who works across the public sector. We were discussing micro management. As you can imagine, this became a very passionate discussion.

  • Why do managers not delegate to others
  • Is it even realistic to ask that question?

How can education transforms people to enable learning and growth so they will be able to embrace new challenges and develop leadership learnings?

Do successful entrepreneurs fear delegating?

Collecting responsibilities, multitasking, and wearing multiple hats can at times give a false sense of security and control to someone in a position of authority. But when 20% of their time is spent on one task, and 30% on another, and 10% on another…well, you’re not 100 percent focused on anything!

Strategic planning deserves your full attention. Delegating can help you use your time and staff more efficiently, ultimately reaching your strategic goals regardless of whatever roadblocks might lie ahead.

If you go to Wikipedia to look up the word micromanagement you will find the word “symptoms” in the table of contents. Symptoms are used with sickness and illness. Cancer and diarrhoea have symptoms. Like cancer, micro management can kill team spirit and enthusiasm.

The effects of micromanagement to your business

Micromanagement is a destructive way of leadership. It can destroy trust, morale, and you could damage your line of communication. You can get disengaged employees and then creativity will drop. Employees self-esteem will then drop as well and over time, their performance. All in all, you become a large contributor to a hostile and dysfunctional work environment.

What should you do instead of micromanage?

What drives employee engagement? Engaged employees produce amazing results, there is no doubt about it. Employee engagement is the main building block of a winning culture and all companies need a solid foundation and strategic plan to work from.

Keyword: Trust

Trust is a key component to drive employee engagement. Have faith in your employees and leave them room to perform. You will soon see an increase in productivity. Trust will also give you valuable feedback, as micromanagement leads to employees shutting down the lines of communication.

Keyword: Time

You spend a lot of time micromanaging, is it worth it? Could you be better at time management? Should you focus on growth strategies instead of being detail oriented?

Keyword: Communication

When you micromanage you are shutting down lines of communication. Your employees will stop talking to you in fear of becoming micro managed. Laying low will become a strategy in your office, resulting in no communication, no engagement, no growth, and you will not have enough information to do your own job effectively.

Implement Trust, Free Time and Communicate

Display trust, become a better communicator. Try to motivate performance and use positive feedback to accomplish your desired outcome. Be clear about what you want in results. Engage the employee in conversations. Listen, ask questions, and listen. Talk with the employee and display trust until you are sure that the message is understood.

You need to see that micromanagement can damage the work environment and that micromanagement is a result of unhealthy communication skills.

The New Digital Business Economy

man watching many tv screensInternational leaders face an era of unprecedented change. The recession and financial crisis that ended in 2009 caused a seismic shift that has reshaped the global business landscape. The world economy is now characterized by sluggish growth in the West, a shift in power to the East, and value-driven customers and rising risks everywhere. At the same time, the downturn has hastened the adoption of key technologies—mobility, cloud computing, business intelligence and social media—that are transforming businesses and sparking a new wave of wealth creation, particularly in the emerging world.

Economic growth and technology are inextricably linked. Current economic conditions are fostering investment in technology as emerging markets ramp up their demand for technology to fuel growth, and advanced markets seek new ways to cut costs and drive innovation. This becomes a virtuous circle as digital technologies drive consumer income and demand, education and training, and efficient use of capital and resources—leading to increased economic growth, particularly in emerging markets.

Executives must be aware of the new challenges facing their firms as market momentum accelerates. Rising middle classes in places like China and India offer extraordinary potential for companies that understand their needs. Emerging markets are also spawning rivals that are unencumbered by legacy systems and corporate bureaucracy—with their sights set on advanced economies.

Against this backdrop, there are potentially several significant shifts companies will need to address
over the next five years:

1. The global digital economy comes of age.
2. Industries undergo digital transformation.
3. The digital divide reverses.
4. The emerging-market customer takes center stage.
5. Business shifts into hyperdrive.
6. Firms reorganize to embrace the digital economy.
7. Restoring trust

Research has shown that an emphasis should be placed on reducing the level of organisational complexity and enhancing the ability to move quickly and effectively in following new opportunities or countering threats.

The sharing economy, collaborative economy and crowd business models are all variations on a theme. A clear strategy on how to engage with and profit from this trend is key.

The new mobile and social business models bring myriad challenges and contradictions, notes Wharton management professor Harbir Singh. “Most businesses today understand that they need to exist in an ‘ecosystem’ that includes other companies, some of their competitors. “ He advocates careful monitoring of what it being yielded, vs expenses put into, such models. He also advocates opening up of products/services to create a platform that others can contribute to.

Executives should have a forward-looking mobile strategy for emerging markets, where the phone is the primary means for internet access. At the same time, they must consider how to improve data analytics to anticipate rapid global market shifts. Remember that in a fast-moving world, the threat of security breaches increases; companies must build stronger safeguards into their operations.

Trust is also a huge subject in companies, there are two avenues of restoration that businesses need to consider, the first relating to employees’ trust and the second consumers’ trust. Business must show that it has a broader skill set and can execute on engagement and integrity-based attributes , which can involve a complete overhaul of the company culture, ethic, moral and humanity based issues in business.

Finally, while emerging markets are growing quickly, companies should remember to protect market share in their home countries—rivals in emerging markets will be looking to play in your backyard

What do you believe companies should change in 2014?

The Power of Communication

Maia Kincaid, photograph by Pam Taylor
Maia Kincaid, photograph by Pam Taylor

I had the most amazing fortune of being introduced to Maia Kincaid, PH.D whilst I was in Sedona, Arizona, on a recent trip.

Maia works as an animal and nature communicator and is the author of several books. Our venue was a superb organic restaurant on the West Side of Sedona called The Field. As I walked into the restaurant to meet Maia there was an excellent quote on the wall “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about” – Rumi.” This inspired me deeply. I was received by a smiling Maia and a delightful lunch menu.

Maia asked me about Freedom After The Sharks, my recently published book. Then the conversation turned to her work across animal and nature communication. She wanted to know if I ever wondered what my pet was thinking or what my pet would say if he could talk. Did I know that animals do speak as humans do? 

Two years ago, I read a book called Animal Speak by Ted Andrews. Animal Speak teaches that our relationship with animals on this earth is not merely a physical one. It involves our mystical side too. The lessons learned will benefit the animals in our life by increasing our communication with and respect for them. In general, animals teach us valuable lessons. They offer guidance and support if our heart is open to shamanic teachings.

I explained to Maia that I have seen butterflies dancing around my head at 4500 ft of a hike, eagles circling my head at 7000 ft, and squawking red breasted Colorado hawks at 6000 ft. I had tarantula climbing on my foot during the daytime on a hike, watched mountain lions, elks, hummingbirds, ravens and many other species. These animals all carried a message at a certain time in my life and wanted to communicate with me. What if I could actually communicate with these animals and form a two-way communication and bond? Imagine the power of human nature, wisdom, and how this could change my life! I was amazed just with the possibilities.

From Maia’s website: “Talking with an animal directly is a powerful way to provide exactly what they desire, what they need, and what is in their highest good. And, besides that, animals have the most amazing and enlightening things to share with us about their way of viewing and living life, and they have great wisdom to share with us on living our own unique lives.

We communicate telepathically with all species of animals large and small including; wild animals, whales, dolphins, insects, plants and the Earth. It brings us great joy to inspire and guide others in awakening their own innate animal and nature listening abilities through our Telepathic Animal and Nature Communication Classes and a Certification Program in Telepathic Animal, Nature and Veterinary Communication. We work with veterinarians and other animal specialists training them in animal communication as a powerful tool to add to the already profound difference they make for people and their pets. And, we have the ongoing joy of training animal and Nature lovers and upcoming Telepathic Animal Communication Specialists in animal and Nature communication and coaching them on the development of their fulfilling lives and new careers.

I was fascinated and had a revelation. I had met Maia who teaches humans to speak with animals. Humans often have difficulties communicating with each other in our  business and personal lives. Why is this so?

Have you asked yourself why technology is so important? Just look around and you see why. Literally, at every instant of time, you are surrounded by technology. Whether you are working, resting or playing, you are always using technology. It is used everywhere and all the time.

Technology is about speed to reaction, performance, and 24/7 delivery. There are very few things that your smart phone will not allow you to complete: work, book a holiday, arrange a tennis match, entertainment. It is all possible. You can even find a new wife or husband online without speaking to them. It is all virtual but how is this effecting society? What are the long terms effects of virtual communication vs. an interactive discussion or meeting?

The internet, and especially social media, is having an impact on American couples as technology becomes more deeply integrated into people’s lives. A new study published by Pew Research Internet Project reveals that couples are feeling both the positive and negative effects of digital communication tools in their relationships.

The researchers found that 27% of American adults online who are in business, married, or in committed relationships report that the internet has had an impact on their relationships. A majority report that the impact has been positive. However, in some relationships, technology has been seen as a negative source of distraction. For example, 25% of cell phone users in serious relationships report that the phone distracts their spouse or partner when they are alone together.

Technology has changed the face of many relationships, affecting the way couples communicate, grow closer, plan, fight, and make up. The findings look at the role of technology in the lives of married or partnered adults, exploring both the positive and negative effects.

Maia has achieved an amazing revelation in her journey for communication with animals and nature. It certainly proves that simple communication whether verbalized or through telepathy is incredibly important to the relationship. It enhances our ability to build relationships and not deconstruct and build longevity and lasting relationships which is the traditional and social model that has survived.

I think that in the last 15 years, technological developments have given humans permission to evolve from purely direct communication to an advanced form of connection. We still need to meet face-to-face, speak on the telephone, and handwrite letters and cards primarily. But, now this interaction is enhanced and embellished by what we people define as connected technology.

Maia finished our discussion by saying that we all need smiles, feelings of fulfillment, feelings of empowerment, feelings of love, appreciation and gratitude. It inspires one’s unique creative expression and it enriches the human heart, mind and soul. These are things that unite humans. We need to be more thankful for the simple joy of being human.

The thrill lies in the challenge

Sedona, AZI was recently asked to go fishing with some friends in Sedona, Arizona, on Grasshopper Creek. Apart from many interesting challenges, this is a beautiful creek in the Red Rock and one on the most beautiful destinations in the world.
So why exactly do people fish? Ask most anglers why they enjoy spending time in the outdoors and you’re likely to hear the word “freedom.” Spending a day afield casting for trout on a cool mountain stream or bobber fishing for bluegills on a pond helps to release us from our highly stressful, everyday environment. Nothing brings on the sense of being alive and helps to rebuild our personal reserves like a day spent interacting with nature.
Fishing has a way of fulfilling an age-old need of pursuing and catching. The thrill lies in the challenge, such as stalking an elusive wild trout or matching the hatch. But there are many who will be quick to profess that it’s not the catching of fish that’s important, but the immeasurable life lessons that you will experience along the way.

Fishing provides that connection with the living world. It gives you the opportunity of being totally immersed, turning back into yourself in a good way. A form of meditation, some form of communion with levels of yourself that are deeper than the ordinary self.

– Ted Hughes

My partners were Rob, a successful budding entrepreneur in the Internet world, Shafeeq, a successful director of medicine in Neurology and Electrodiagnostic disorders, and Jon, a senior partner in law for investments and securities.

fishing 1 750

They were my company on a two-day fishing experience. We discussed many subjects including innovation and strategy of new inventions and creativity. In summary we came up with what strategies you should be consider from an embryonic blank page to insight, which were:

1. Creativity
2. Mindset
3. Engage
4. Customer connected
5. Observe insights
6. Ask the right questions
7. Always challenge
8. Create a think tank

fishing 3 750

Rob mentioned one really cool business that was launched in 2010: Pulse, an elegant news reader. The app has been downloaded by more than 20 million people and stands as one of the original fifty apps in Apple’s App Store Hall of Fame. Interestingly enough, the founders got many things right:

  • They started with a ‘driven’ mindset and were not content to merely comply with the standard requirements of their graduate program.
  • They minimized planning and maximised action, interacting with customers immediately.
  • They prototyped quickly and cheaply, fueling thousands of variations that ultimately resulted in their wildly popular final product.
  • They thrived in spite of time constraints, investment and spurred on by necessity to constantly develop creative ideas at an accelerated pace.

What companies do you follow or admire based on culture, values and performance and why?

Meeting Adara Blake

Adara Blake
Adara Blake

I recently had the pleasure to be in Sedona, Arizona, contemplating my next book.
Sedona is a city that straddles the county line between Coconino and Yavapai counties in the northern Verde Valley region of the U.S. state of Arizona.
Sedona’s main attraction is its array of ed sandstone formations. The formations seem to glow in brilliant orange and red when illuminated by the rising or setting sun.
The red rocks form a popular backdrop for many activities, ranging from spiritual pursuits to the hundreds of hiking and mountain biking trails.​
Sedona is also the city in the US where I wrote Freedom After The Sharks.
I decided one evening to have dinner at my one of my favorite restaurants in uptown overlooking the red rock, when I had the fortuitous of meeting Adara Blake. Adara’s revolution as a musician was greatly influenced as she began to record & produce her own music. She started a small recording studio out of her home & began to produce & record other local musicians as well. Delving into the world of recording, really affected the way she thought about, wrote, created & heard music.

Adara began learning piano about six years ago. Becoming a pianist, opened up Adara’s scope as a songwriter & singer.

We began talking about the meaning of words, the depth of the message in music and compared notes as artist’s in writing from poetry, music, performing arts to writing books, the power of words as a message that reaches audiences with love, compassion and prospective, how words can affect people’s moods, their light and even some of their darker moments.

The popularity of music and books show us that this is a part of our culture, but researchers continue to find that music and reading can also be an part of our health.

Scientists at the University of Missouri have found that people can boost their mood simply by listening to upbeat music or reading a book. Although pursuing personal happiness may be thought of as a self-centered venture, research suggests that happiness relates to a higher chance of socially beneficial behavior, better physical health, higher income, and greater relationship satisfaction.

People can successfully focus more on enjoying their experience of the journey towards happiness and not get hung up on the destination.

Once I provided the synopsis of Freedom After The Sharks, Adara spoke greatly about the love and passion for one of her songs Free Fall, which she decided to perform, which I must say was an excellent solo piece that caused an ovation of applause.

FREE FALL

Have you ever wandered
Lost in the dark
Nothing to hold you
No glimpse of a spark
No one to save you
As you’re falling apart
No one to love you
When you forgot who you are

Let it all come tumbling down
Laid deep, so deep into the ground
Let go, let go of all you know

Be fearless in the free fall
Be fearless in the free fall

Have you ever wanted
A place for your heart
Where it’s held softly
Safe from the dark
Have you ever needed
A break from the knots
That tie up your joy
With the pain that you got
Let it all come tumbling down
Laid soft, so soft inside the sounds
Let go, let go of who you thought

Should catch you, catch you when you fall
Should catch you, catch you when you fall

Have you ever pleaded
With your soul to be strong
When you feel half naked
& everything’s wrong
When you’re left to remember
All that you’ve lost
& you can’t find shelter
From the storms in your heart

Let it all come tumbling down
So deep, so deep into the ground
Take hold, the hand that’s placed beneath

It’s there for you if you just breathe
It’s there for you if you just breathe

Let go of your control
The fear that you’re all alone
We are so simply intertwined
More that you can ever know
So slow your spinning down
Feel the drifting of the flow
It is there to catch you
If you let go of what you hold

Let go of all you hold
Let it all come tumbling down
Laid soft, so soft inside the sounds
Let go, surrender, to it all

Be fearless in the free fall
Be fearless in the free fall
Be fearless in the free fall

Adara loves to write, “no matter how I am feeling at a certain moment in time or time of day, I know my words are the truth that will never change even when my feelings do, so I will write, I will write when I want to, giving myself love, grace and balance and having gratitude for the devotion and abilities to; write, create and perform to others which is the greatest gift of all

Adara’s new album New Crossing is available shortly, do visit her website!

Book Review: Murray Eldridge’s “Leading High Performance”

book cover "leading high performance"A good friend and fellow Non-Executive Director Murray Eldridge, has just launched his new book Leading High Performance.

Over the Easter break, Murray asked me to read and critique his book. Not only was I honoured with such a request, I decide that this week’s blog post should present Murray and a synopsis of his new book.

Murray rowed for Great Britain at Junior World Championship level. He won at Henley and other national competitions. Completing a career at sea as a captain at twenty-nine he embarked on a thirty year business career. He ran companies in China, Singapore, and the UK in oil & gas, and telecoms. He was also active in the water sectors where he remains a shareholder in a desalination company.

Murray runs a consultancy company, carries out board evaluations under the Governance Code, and delivers leadership and strategy workshops for the Institute of Directors. He is a Chartered Director, Chartered Manager, Fellow of the Institute of Management, and an MBA.

Murray’s book provides an excellent and candid summary of the winning principles that rip apart the methods used in many such books, as well as arguments from evidence-based management.
The book focuses not only on leaders, but on the people who work in complex and highly competitive environments. Those environments need people not only to be the best they can be individually, but to cooperate closely over time to secure long-term winning performances.

In sports, coaches are intimately involved in developing athletes, squads, and teams and bring an impressive array of technology and wide-ranging expertise to bear on all aspects of high performance development. There is much that businesses, especially leaders, can learn from coaches and sports.

Leading High Performance takes those elements of sports coaching that are relevant to businesses and shows how the principles of coaching, sports science, training, and even psychology offer tremendous opportunities for achieving high performance in all organisations. It looks at ways in which high performance is achieved in sport and describes, using examples, how this approach develops individuals while encouraging them towards high performance. It then analyses the most relevant ideas and techniques, converting them into easily applicable business models and tools.

The book then goes on to describe how not only leaders, but people in general rely on their connections with other people for business sustainability, that other people can change our very physiology and our emotions, and how people, especially in groups, can inevitably “catch” feelings from one another. This is especially true of the leadership simply because everyone watches the boss. Even when the boss isn’t visible, his or her attitude affects the mood of his direct subordinates, and a domino effect will eventually ripple through the company’s emotional climate. In this way, the author demonstrates the reason a successful leader must be credible at all times.

The last part of the book describes exactly what is required of the high performance leader to effect results, demonstrating through a bespoke methodology, the performance triangle, how leaders can select followers and develop these people in ways that will offer the highest possible chance of achieving high performance in the organization.

In summary; great performance is as much about the belief system and culture in the organization. These beliefs are found in the vision, ethos and values, leadership, the strategy and plans, in people, and importantly that people are trusted to make things happen.

Murray continues to state that if these core attributes are applied to the business then high-performance leaders must have an overwhelming desire to lead – and that the desire to lead must be for the right reasons. It is only through having this overwhelming desire that they will have the energy, enthusiasm, stamina and drive to undertake the unremitting pressure and sustained hard work required to turn an average organisation into a high performing one.

Recommended reading!

Books that made an impact

Geoff SearleGreat leaders learn every day in business that storytelling is key to their role. Reading great books is one of the best ways to learn for some. A company that inspires leaders and business owners to meet results using the power of stories, personal branding, and thought leadership is a necessity in today’s business world.

I have been fortunate enough to read some excellent books over the last 25 years – books that have inspired me to change the way I see the world, my career, business, and the opportunities in front of me. Below is a list of those books that changed my life:

1. Mark H. McCormack – ‘What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School’

Mark McCormack, dubbed ‘the most powerful man in sports’, founded IMG (International Management Group) on a handshake. It was the first and is the most successful sports management company in the world, becoming a multi-million dollar, worldwide corporation whose activities in the business and marketing spheres are so diverse as to defy classification.

In this book, Mark McCormack reveals the secret of his success to key business issues like analysing yourself and others, sales, negotiation, time management, decision-making and communication. What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School fills the gaps between a business school education and the street knowledge that comes from the day-to-day experience of running a business and managing people. It shares the business skills, techniques, and wisdom gleaned from twenty-five years of experience.

2. J.W. Marriott, JR., Kathy Ann Brown and Jim Collins – ‘The Spirit To Serve’

Since taking over the business from his father in 1964, J.W. Marriott has moved from triumph to triumph, building an international chain that includes more than 1,000 hotels making Marriott one of the most recognized names in the hospitality industry. In this book, Marriott explains for the first time the unique management philosophy that brought him this enormous success. Written in an informal first-person narrative that is both engaging and easy to read, The Spirit to Serve distills his years of hard-earned wisdom and experience into a practical blueprint that anyone wishing to emulate his achievements can follow. It includes tips on how to motivate employees, nurture in-house talent, cultivate customer loyalty, as well as invaluable advice on handling growing pains, understanding the big picture, and knowing when to take risks. Packed with many real-life examples that illustrate his principles, The Spirit to Serve is vital reading for all CEOs, middle managers, and department supervisors.

3. Phil McGraw “Self Matters”

The well-known “life strategist” and TV personality Dr. Phil begins this upbeat self-help book by recalling one of the most unpleasant phone calls he ever had to make. In 1989, ten years into a flourishing career, McGraw called his father to say that, despite the outward trappings of success, he was miserable. His new plan was to move away and start a new career and a new life. According to McGraw, many people are now in a similar situation. They are trapped in unsatisfying lives or jobs that they loathe.

Too many people, says McGraw, are “so busy being busy, that they have let the colors fade from their lives. They’re worried about superficial matters rather than what’s important: “I’ll bet 90-plus percent of them spent months, or even years, planning their wedding and almost no time planning their marriage!

To change their lives, McGraw’s readers must first complete two questionnaires that he designed to assess their “authentic self” and their “congruence” (how someone’s current life compares with a vision of an ideal life). With the scores from these tests, readers can then embark upon a specific plan for changing their lives and for determining which external and internal forces they will, or won’t, allow to control their futures.

Readers familiar with McGraw’s aggressive TV personality may be surprised by this book’s thoughtful and serious tone. McGraw’s notion of making change is not a simple one. It requires readers to look at every aspect of their daily lives and it’s likely that some readers may not be able to make all the changes he advocates. However, his book offers a thorough, realistic resource for those who are committed to turning their lives around to get what they really want and need.

4. Tom Peters – The Circle of Innovation

Business guru Tom Peters has been recognized for his originality and perception since co-authoring one of the most influential management books of all time: 1982’s ‘In Search of Excellence‘. Now, in his seventh work, ‘The Circle of Innovation: You Can’t Shrink Your Way to Greatness’, he presents a provocative new vision for prospering in the “permanent state of flux” that is ruling today’s business world. By juxtaposing short text passages and bold graphic images, Peters simply but passionately offers his prescription (perpetual innovation) in a nontraditional way intended to foster individual interpretation.

5. Paul R. Lawrence & Nitin Nohria – Driven

Harvard Business School professors Lawrence and Nohria present a socio-biological theory of motivation, claiming that humans have four basic drives

  • to acquire,
  • to bond,
  • to learn, and
  • to defend

What makes their theory novel is the way they apply it to the workplace. The authors use historical case studies to show that successful organizations are those that give their employees opportunities to fulfill these drives, while those that fulfill only the drive to acquire are ultimately less stable. Examples of both types of organizations are provided.

The authors are well versed in sociobiology and their four-drive theory makes intuitive sense. There are, however, a number of competing drive theories, from Freud’s sexual drive and death urge to Steven Reiss’s 16-drive theory. The authors acknowledge that the numbers and exact nature of our drives need further exploration and offer suggestions for research projects that would verify their hypotheses.

6. John Simpson – A Mad World My Masters

Some people just aren’t cut out for the suburbs. As one of the BBC’s top foreign correspondents, John Simpson has been at the epicentre of many of the world’s flashpoints for more than 30 years. Afghanistan, Belgrade, Hong Kong, Baghdad; you name it, he’s been there. And what’s more, he hasn’t just met the great and the good, such as Clinton and Blair, he’s met the top bogey men, too. He’s had Osama Bin Laden pleading with some Afghani guerrillas to kill him and his crew, he’s interviewed Emperor Bokassa, Colonel Gadhafi and Arkan and had close up dealings with Saddam Hussein. And it goes without saying he was one of the first people in the entire world to see in the new millennium on the specially named Millennium Island, which the Kiribati government claimed just squeezed inside the international date line.​

What books can you recommend to me?

How I experienced the Shen Yun performance

Geoff Searele at the Shun Yen Performance, Birmingham 2014 smallI was lucky to attend a performance of the Shen Yun Performing Arts Troupe in Birmingham.

Shen Yun was established in 2006 as a company with about 30 dancers, as well as an orchestra, soloists, artistic directors and production staff. Since its inaugural season, the company has expanded to include three equally large companies with dozens of dancers, soloists, and orchestras.

Shen Yun promotes itself as “a presentation of traditional Chinese culture as it once was: a study in grace, wisdom, and virtues distilled from five millennia of Chinese civilization.”

I was interviewed after the show, you can see that here. The news anchor and the short narrative are in Chinese but my interview is in English. In your browser an option should pop up to translate the page.

Here is a YouTube clip to show you a Shen Yun performance:

Enjoy!